The St. John’s Edge have an opportunity Tuesday night to move into sole possession of first place in not only their Central Division, but in the National Basketball League of Canada overall, when the Windsor Express drop into Mile One Centre for the first of two games.
The 15-8 Edge, who are tied with the London Lightning for first in the division and overall, are 7-3 in their last 10 games heading into Tuesday’s 7 p.m. start against the 10-12 Express.
St. John’s and Windsor play again 7 o’clock Wednesday night at Mile One.
The Edge are coming off a split with the Moncton Magic over the weekend, the first couple of games in a brief four-game homestand. Following the Windsor series, the Edge head out over the road for four games in London, Niagara (St. Catharines), Windsor and Kitchener, Ont.
The Edge did some very good work on the boards and at the free-throw line to hold off the Magic for a 104-100 win Saturday night, which came on the heels of a 116-98 loss Friday night.
In Saturday’s rematch, the Edge opened up a 10-0 early lead and led after every quarter and throughout, but could never pull away completely from the Magic, who trailed by only 99-98 with 38 seconds left in the game.
But St. John’s got the breathing room it needed over the waning moments as Charles Hinkle hit a three-pointer and followed up with a pair of free throws.
The latter were part of a perfect night from the charity stripe for the Edge, who were 24-for-24 on free throws. That efficiency rate was especially important given that Moncton got to the line many more times, but went just 26-for-42 in those instances.
Carl English led St. John’s in points, with 25, and assists, with eight, while Hinkle recorded a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
In fact, Hinkle was one of three Edge players to hit double figures in rebounds, joining Grandy Glaze, who had 10, and Desmond Lee, who had a team-leading 13 boards, plus 15 points to join Hinkle in the double-double category.
Overall, St. John’s had 51 rebounds compared to 31 for Moncton.
Alex Johnson had 13 points and a half-dozen helpers for the winners, while Jarryn Skeete added 10 points.
Moncton got 26 points from Anthony Anderson, 19 from Brent Jennings and 15 from Tirell Baines.
However, the Magic’s Corey Almond, who had a whopping 35 points and was 11-for-20 on three-pointers Friday, managed just five points and was only one-for-six from long range a night later.
According to the boxscore on the NBL Canada’s website, attendance Saturday was a near-capacity 4,617 and more than 900 better than Friday’s posted crowd of 3,721.
That’s far better than other attendances over the weekend. Sunday, 1,591 showed up in Saint John, N.B. as the Riptide beat the Halifax Hurricanes, while 1,530 were in attendance in Charlottetown, P.E.I. in the KW Titans’11-98 win over the Island Storm.
In two other games Saturday night, 1,808 were in Charlottetown as the Hurricanes beat the Island Storm 117-94, and 1,880 turned out in Saint John to watch the Riptide beat the Titans 88-79.
Attendance continues to be strong in London, Ont., where the Lightning beat the Niagara River Lions 103-92 Saturday.